photo by Laura
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac.
Genesis 22:3 ESV
Dear ICB family,
Some time back, two friends of mine agreed to begin a trek through the stories of the Bible. Not too far into our survey we came to the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac, and when we got to the end of the story and began talking about what it meant, one of the two, not a believer, mind you, said what seemed as clear as day to him: The point of this story is that Abraham loved God even more than he loved his own son.
And in the end, it really does come down to that, doesn't it?
Wait a second, you might say. Isn't this story about Abraham's obedience? Oh, I think it is about that. I just think it's about much more than that.
Or you might ask, Doesn't this story basically show us Abraham's faith? Yes, I would answer, it does show us Abraham's faith, but I think there's even more to see here than just Abraham's faith.
You see, according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, you could have mega faith, enough to move mountains, but if you don't have love, you're nothing. So while I do think Abraham had faith, I don't think that's all he had.
And when it comes to obedience, obedience in and of itself is no virtue unless it flows out of a heart that loves to submit in faith to the one giving the commands. Notice Jesus' link between obedience and love: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments," he said (John 14:15). Mere commandment keeping is something God has never been interested in for its own sake.
Did Abraham have faith? Yes. And his love for God ensured his faith wasn't "nothing" (see 1 Corinthians 13:2–3). Did Abraham show incredible obedience to God? Yes. And I can only conclude that his obedience flowed up and out of a heart full of love that motivated him to obey even the astonishing command that God gave him in Genesis 22:2 to take his son, his only son Isaac, whom God knew Abraham loved, and offer him as a sacrifice (see John 14:15).
Do you love God that much? Do you love him enough to place your pet idols on the altar of sacrifice and bring down the knife? Are you willing to kill your pride for his sake? Are you willing to forsake literally anything and everything this world has to offer you in exchange for the "surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8)?
Try this if you're not sure. In the following sentence, fill in the two blanks with literally anything you can possibly think of, and test how your heart responds to the thought.
If I were ever faced with a situation in which I had to choose between _____ and Jesus, I would turn my back on _____ and chose Jesus.
Here are some suggestions of words you might try out: my ministry, my profession, my reputation, my family, my spouse, my children, my friends, my passport country, my ethnicity, my culture, my socio-economic status, my savings account, my access to foreign currencies, my buying power against the devalued som, the latest technological gadget, the safety net that many generous people back home have provided for me, my access to healthcare, my education, my professional training, my degree(s), my social and professional connections, my spiritual gifts, my talents and abilities, the languages I can speak, my time, my resume, my past experiences, my rights, my privileges, my denominational affiliation, my honor, my current social standing, my seat of influence.
Now try out all the words I haven't thought of.
Oh, God, have mercy. May we, like Abraham, love you more than we love your good and gracious gifts to us.
Grace and peace,